Why is it that sometimes, even though you work yourself to the bone, you still feel like you're going nowhere in your business?

That's because the value of your work to your business isn't always the same. It depends on which zone you're operating from: your Zone of Genius, Zone of Ability, or Zone of Waste.

You can tell which zone you're in by looking at the value of what you produce.

The Zone of Ability is where you produce value equivalent to where you are right now. To get the hourly dollar value of the work you do, take the total annual revenue of your business and divide it by 2,000 (You don't need a calculator; just drop 3 zeroes and divide by 2).

That hourly value represents the value of the work you do in your Zone of Ability.

Anytime you produce more value, then you're operating in your Zone of Genius. And anytime you produce less value, you're operating in your Zone of Waste.

And of course, it's a moving target. As your business revenue grows, the value of your Zone of Ability will grow, too.

Zone of Genius

Knowing the value of the work you do has big implications in what work you engage in, how you spend your time, and even who you hire.

Going Fast, Getting Nowhere

Take Ken, owner of a startup, as an example. Ken's company made $100,000 last year. That means his Zone of Ability is worth $50 per hour.

Let's say Ken spent 75 hours preparing a slide deck and pitching an investor, which resulted in an infusion of $500,000 into his company. The value of those hours is $6,667 per hour, which means all that work was in Ken's Zone of Genius.

On the other hand, Ken also spends 5 hours a month doing his company's bookkeeping. According to Payscale.com, the average pay for a bookkeeper in the United States is $16.26 per hour--that's the amount Ken "saved" by doing it himself. Clearly, doing bookkeeping is in Ken's Zone of Waste!

Impact, freedom, and wealth only grow in your Zone of Genius. In an ideal world, you would spend most of your working hours in your Zone of Genius, a little bit in your Zone of Productivity, and none at all in your Zone of Waste.

We don't live in an ideal world, of course, but you can spend more time in your Zone of Genius.

4 Ways to Spend More Time in Your Zone of Genius

1. Eliminate anything that's weighing you down or holding you back.

Invest in a quality work environment, physical equipment, and software systems, because having those things in place can multiply your productivity immediately. Also look at your to-do list to see what you can postpone or simply remove without doing it at all.

2. Limit the amount of time you work.

Parkinson's Law is true: your work will expand to fill the time you make available.

Gradually reduce your working hours, and you'll start to see real progress as you're forced to focus on the most important work.

3. Automate whatever repetitive tasks you can.

Use the abundance of good tools and systems available for automating tasks, such as TaskRabbit, Fancy Hands, and If This Then That.

4. Delegate or outsource as many as possible of the tasks you can't automate.

There's a fairly low ceiling on what any of us can accomplish without help, so get the help that you need. That might be full-time or part-time, local, remote, or virtual, employed or outsourced--whatever suits your situation and budget.

You don't have to do all this right away. Make one change at a time, and the results will snowball over time.

The important thing is to begin right now.